The Scholarship of Mentoring

Dr. Elizabeth A. Barron, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Xavier University

Ordinarily one thinks of a mentor as an advisor, counselor, guide, tutor, teacher, even guru. All of those synonyms are appropriate in describing what good faculty members do instinctively -- with students of course. But what if the "student" is a colleague, a fellow faculty member? Somehow that changes our perception of mentoring and complicates the process of mentoring. A recent American Association for Higher Education conference on Faculty Roles and Rewards even had a session entitled "Our Mentors, Our Tormentors: Academic Culture and the End of Disciplineship."

Our first effort several years ago to introduce mentoring as a part of faculty development for first-year faculty was not particularly successful, partially due to the lack of support for the mentors. Recent discussions on our campus (and other campuses across the nation) about the scholarship of teaching have led us to view the role of the teacher somewhat differently -- the "guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage" syndrome. That is what the mentor is: the guide who assists the new faculty member in developing his/her teaching and scholarship. It is also an opportunity for the mentor to develop his/her own scholarship as well. If scholarship by its very nature must be shared, made public, then here is an opportunity to share-with the mentee assigned to you, and with other mentors and mentees as well.

This time, we promise more support. This collection of resources on mentoring is one form of support. As we try again to implement mentoring at Xavier, we will share issues, concerns, and strategies of mentoring and together develop the insights that will promote successful mentoring.

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